I woke up with a shrill of yell that penetrated the depth of night. My eyes riveted in the darkness that swathed me. But, no…it was more than that…the cry was familiar…I chilled when I heard it again. I wasn’t dreaming…
It was almost the end of summer when my former classmates in elementary agreed to spend an over night swimming in a nearby town’s beach resort. Most of them were in their last days of vacation and about to be back in Manila for their studies.
I had that deep resolution not to join them since the following day I needed to go to the city for the final procedure of enrolment. My parents were quite adamant also to give their permission because when we had night swimming for my sister’s birthday, I arrived home burning with fever.
After several “conscience pleadings” from my friends and prodding from my sister, Angel, I’ve finally relented. After all, I could opt not just to join them in swimming.
My best friend in elementary and I chatted endlessly walking barefooted along the shore while others enjoyed swimming immediately. Not long after, when she decided to join the rest of the group in the water, I fell in a deep doze in the cottage.
It was supposedly a nice clean outing by close friends but turned out into a nightmare.
I was trembling when I scrambled on my feet trying to figure out where the sound came from. Then, I saw a friend running while shouting my name. She told me that my sister got entangled with a jelly (famous for the name salabay)- a killer jelly we found out later.
I saw the whole group pouring her water trying to remove some tentacles that perforated her skin. She was screaming the whole time and fainted several times. We immediately brought her to the nearest hospital not having any first aid to help her.
When we reached the hospital, she was still unconscious and her arms were swollen as if painted with red ugly lines. Her legs were not spared too.
Time occurred in a haze. When we finally reached home, my sister was writhing with fever. Her arms were still swollen. My friends courageously explained to my furious parents what happened while I was in shock the whole time.
My sister cried non stop and she was immediately brought again to the hospital to be confined. She stayed in the local hospital for about two days but her condition only got worst. She had on and off fever and her blood pressure was fluctuating.
It was the second night when my parents were warned my sister could not make it. We brought her to the city hospital in an ambulance and that was the longest journey of my life. She was given 24 hours to live.
It was an agonizing moment waiting for her to be out of that ordeal. The doctors said they have not treated yet any case like that. Though she was always in pain killers, it didn’t ease the pain she was going through. She was in and out of consciousness.
Angel survived that traumatic accident. However, the tentacles left permanent scars in several parts of her body. Her skin was severely damaged and until now the ugly red blemishes are still visible.
Up to this day, it’s still a big puzzle why I wasn’t with the group in the water when it happened. Some of them also had scars because of the tentacles though not so severe. Was my being a loner spared me from that incident?
Every summer after that, my friends and I reminisced that experience with disbelief in our faces. Oh, we did learn our lesson. We never had another swimming in the beach again…only in a pool.